Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of a greater marketing orientation among arts organisations and its impact on funding through sponsorship. Design/methodology/approach - Utilising a qualitative methodology, the study employs case studies for the purpose of formulating tentative and emergent knowledge. Findings - The case study observations reveal the adoption of a marketing orientation across the sample and most significantly for the purposes of securing and consolidating sponsorship relationships. But contrary to popular academic theory this is managed without significant threat to artistic integrity or adaptation of theatrical productions. Research limitations/implications - Data were derived from a purposive but limited sample. The advantages of a qualitative method in producing rich data is well established, however a longitudinal study would facilitate the understanding of the temporal shifts in arts sponsorships and counter the limits of the cross-sectional nature of the study. Practical implications - The study reveals a managerial capacity for arts organisations to attract sponsorship through customer orientation without the need to compromise its artistic and social goals. Originality/value - A central concern to the increasing significance of business and private funding for the survival of arts organisations is the impact this has on the producers ability to remain faithful to the artistic integrity of their productions. This longstanding academic debate now has predominance in arts marketing management and the issues addressed in this paper serve to address this shift in emphasis.